In Fall of 2021, Carpinteria Unified School District will begin a dual language immersion (DLI) program at Aliso Elementary School under the leadership of Aliso’s principal, Dr. Michelle Fox, and her team. In the program’s first year, there will be one kindergarten class.

Canalino Elementary School principal, Jamie Persoon, and her team launched a DLI program in the 2017/2018 school year with two kindergarten classes. That original cohort of 48 students – one-third English speaking, one-third Spanish speaking and one-third bilingual – are now third graders. With two classes in four grade levels at Canalino, there are now 192 DLI students at CUSD, and soon to be more with the launch of Aliso’s program.

“The goal of dual language immersion is for students to gain fluency in the target language, Spanish, and have bilingualism and biliteracy in both Spanish and English. Ultimately, the goal is for all DLI students to graduate with the seal of biliteracy, verifying their skills in both languages in addition to their high school diploma,” said Persoon in a release Sunday.

While DLI is open to all students who express interest, the program is intended to be especially helpful for native Spanish speakers who benefit from gaining academic language and literacy skills in their native language while acquiring mastery of grade level standards in English as well. DLI seeks to increase the number of English learners who are reclassified as Fluent English Proficient by the fifth grade.

CUSD hopes to include more families in the upcoming kindergarten class by increasing access to the DLI program at Aliso, Persoon said. Since the passage of Proposition 58 in 2016 (which effectively repealed the English-only requirement in California schools), the number of DLI programs around the state and within the county is rapidly increasing. CUSD will continue to strategically plan for implementation through middle school and high school.

There will be more information available to families during a Zoom meeting about CUSD kindergarten options and registration on Thursday, March 4 at 5:30 p.m. for English-speaking families and 6:30 p.m. for Spanish-speaking families. Principals Persoon and Fox, Superintendent Diana Rigby, and representative TK (transitional kindergarten) and kindergarten teachers will be in attendance. To learn more or attend the meeting, visit cusd.net.

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